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Drive along the Amalfi coast | Kirkandmimi / Pixabay
Drive along the Amalfi coast | Kirkandmimi / Pixabay
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These Two Countries Have Just Been Voted the Most Adventurous in the World – and They Couldn't Be More Different

Picture of Jessica Jones
Updated: 24 October 2017
U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the most adventurous countries in the world based on five attributes that encapsulate what many travellers look for in an ideal destination: Fun, Friendliness, Climate, Scenery and Sexy. The top two countries are over 9,000 kilometrea (5,600 miles) apart and, on the face of it, could not be more different. We explore just what makes Brazil (winner) and Italy (runner up) the best countries for adventure in the world.

Brazil

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Rio de Janiero | ©poswiecie/Pixabay

Brazil, the fifth biggest country in the world by landmass, dominates South America. It is the only country on the Spanish-speaking continent where Portuguese is the official language and is, in the mind of many, associated with samba, Copacabana Beach and Brazilians’ infectious spirit.

With 10/10 scores in the Fun and Sexy categories, if you’re out for a good time, beautiful Brazil is hard to beat.

Scenery

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Canoeing down the Amazon is just one of the adventures on offer in Brazil | ©Claudia Regina/Flickr

The sheer scale of Brazil’s natural wonders is unbelievable: it’s home to the Amazon river (world’s longest), its coastline stretches 7,491 kilometres (4,655 miles) and the Amazon Rainforest is host to the greatest variety of plant and animal life on the planet.

Iguazu Falls | Poswiecie / Pixabay
Iguazu Falls | Poswiecie / Pixabay

On the Brazilian-Argentinian border lie the breathtaking Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world. A walkway offers great views over the falls, and helicopter rides are available for aerial views.

Adventure

Where do we start? Here is just a tiny pick of some of the most adventurous activities you can do in Brazil.

Hang gliding over Rio

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Hang gliding over Rio | ©Susan/Flickr

Throwing yourself off a mountain beneath a hang glider is certainly an adventurous way to take in the sights of Rio, from its legendary beaches to the emerald green slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain – and it’s a must for adrenaline junkies.

Trekking through the Amazon

Channel your inner Indiana Jones, embark on a journey through the dense Amazon Rainforest and keep your eyes peeled for they incredible variety of flora and fauna. Alternatively, grab a paddle and canoe down the Amazon River, a real adventure to tick off the bucket list.

Diving in Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is one of the best places to dive in Brazil | © Tiago Scharfy / Flickr
Fernando de Noronha is one of the best places to dive in Brazil | © Tiago Scharfy / Flickr

Fernando de Noronha, a group of islands off Brazil’s northeast coast, is widely regarded as the best place in the country to scuba dive, and just to the south, Recife is great alternative. The entire area offers year-round options to see ancient shipwrecks and a huge range of sea life. Be warned, though: sharks are pretty common in this area. All adds to the adventure, right?

Fun

Dancer at the Rio Carnival | 489327 / Pixabay
Dancer at the Rio Carnival | ©489327/Pixabay

One of Brazil’s most famous events is Rio Carnival, the world’s biggest carnival which sees over two million people take to the streets every day to watch ornate floats and samba school dancers strut their stuff. If you’re lucky enough to be in town during the festivities, prepare to be swept up in a wave of dancing and all-night partying.

Did you know?

Brazil is home to the terrifying Snake Island, an island with – surprise! – over 4,000 giant snakes…oh, and they’re poisonous. Luckily (or unfortunately, depending on how you see it), the island is closed to visitors. Just knowing about its existence is enough to send a chill down our spines, though.

Italy

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Lake Prags in the Dolomites | ©12019/Pixabay

Italy is renowned for its rich history and its world-famous cuisine (pizza lovers bow down). While the country might be seen as a cultural paradise, perhaps fewer people think of it as a destination for an adrenaline-fuelled holiday. But they’d be wrong – Italy takes second place on the list, scoring highest in the Scenic and Friendly categories.

Scenery

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The Dolomites | ©kordi_vahle/Pixabay

With the Dolomite Mountains’ craggy peaks in the northeast, the country’s many picture-perfect lakes and its spewing volcanoes, Italy’s scenery is dramatic and varied. From picturesque coastline road trips to mountain hikes to unforgettable dives, Italy is brimming with adventurous experiences.

Adventure

Want to get the adrenaline pumping next time you’re in Italy? Here are a few of the country’s most adventurous activities.

Volcano hiking

Hike up the Stromboli volcano | violetta / Pixabay
Hike up the Stromboli volcano | ©violetta/Pixabay

Travellers can choose from several volcanoes to hike, from the active volcano-island of Stromboli, just off Sicily, to the mighty Mount Vesuvius (the volcano that famously destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii), off Naples.

Diving to the Sunken City of Baiae

This ancient Roman city provides an alternative diving experience: instead of sea creatures, you can check out amazingly well-preserved buildings, pillars and statues.

Skiing in Piedmont

Go skiing in Piedmont for the ultimate adventure | © Marius Brede / Flickr
Go skiing in Piedmont for the ultimate adventure | ©Marius Brede/Flickr

Glide across soft, powdered snow in one of Italy’s top winter sports destinations. Piedmont, bordering France and Switzerland, lies at the foot of the Alps (‘Piedmont’ means ‘foot of the mountain’), and over 40% of the region is made up of mountains. The 2006 Winter Olympics were held in Turin, so check out the best ski resorts in the region for an unforgettable winter trip.

Fun

Drive along the Amalfi coast | Kirkandmimi / Pixabay
Drive along the Amalfi coast | Kirkandmimi / Pixabay

Plan a cinematic sojourn by renting a car and driving along the glamorous Amalfi coast, where the cliffs doubled as Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s mythical home island in the recent blockbuster.

Cinephiles should also take in Rome: throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, made famous in La Dolce Vita, or whiz through the city’s terrifying traffic on a Vespa like Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.